What is Lumbar Facet Syndrome?

Each vertebrae within the spine has two bony plates that extend backwards and interlock with the vertebra above and below, these joints are known as facet joints. These facet joints, together with the intervertebral disc form the intervertebral joints and act as weight bearing structures as well as hinges that allow the spine to bend and move.

Lumbar facet syndrome is a painful irritation of one or more of these facet joints. The most common cause is repetitive microtrauma caused by repetitive extension of the lower back, however irritation of the facets may also occur following damage to the intervertebral disc. Lumbar facet syndrome presents as a dull ache, tenderness, radiating pain and/or stiffness.

Risk factors for the development of lumbar facet syndrome include trauma, aging, disc degeneration, infection, obesity, poor posture, incorrect lifting techniques and smoking. If left untreated lumbar facet syndrome may lead to the development of other degenerative spinal conditions, such as osteoarthritis.

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